ROCHELLE — As health organizations locally and around the country continue implementing guidelines to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, student-athletes and coaches in the Hub City are waiting to see what comes next.
Following recommendations from the Ogle County Health Department, Rochelle Township High School athletic director Rich Harvey announced the cancellation of all athletic events until May 1. Additionally, Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker announced this past week that all schools would be closed through that same date, meaning student-athletes are unable to practice with their respective programs according to IHSA guidelines.
While the IHSA hasn’t made a decision regarding the entire spring sports season and its and spring championships, the future of RTHS athletic events beyond May 1 are to be determined. In the meantime, coaches and student-athletes are staying prepared in the event they are able to return to practice and compete once again.
“I feel for our kids who have put in a lot of hard work,” head baseball coach Jarrod Reynolds said. “I’m sure that it’s disappointing for the seniors to have this happen, but this is bigger than baseball. I think it’s important that we listen to the health experts… We communicate with the players using an app, and I have been sending them a Thought of the Day so they are at least thinking about baseball a little bit.”
“We told the girls to do their best to stay in shape during the suspension,” head girls soccer coach Koby Stern said. “Obviously, we are disappointed to not be playing. The girls, Brad [Male] and I were really looking forward to the season starting and seeing where we were as a program… It makes us sad as a team because we had been working so hard to prepare, but we understand it was necessary, and we’ll be ready when we return.”
Rochelle’s boys and girls track and field teams are the only spring sports programs to have competed thus far. The Hubs took second in the DeKalb triangular meet on Feb. 29, while the Lady Hubs finished fifth in the Sycamore Invitational on March 10. Both teams will have to wait until the outdoor season to compete again, however, with all remaining indoor events canceled including the 2020 Illinois Top Times State Championships.
“We’re telling kids to do what they can at home while remaining safe and following the school’s guidelines,” head girls track coach Alison Vrana said. “We have posted optional workouts online for the kids to use. As of right now, our season is up in the air, but we always train for May and we’ll continue training for May… Mr. Harvey has given us great support and we’re grateful for him and his continued communication with us as we receive more information.”
“I’m not surprised about the cancellations,” head boys track coach John Dobbs said. “I’ve posted some workouts online that the kids can do. I’ve suggested the kids do the workouts, but they aren’t required. If they don’t feel comfortable doing the workouts, that’s fine with me. We’re at the mercy of whatever happens with this virus.”
The IHSA released an additional statement Tuesday, which says that May 1 remains the target date for spring sports to resume. However, while sports remain cancelled, the IHSA reaffirmed that student-athletes cannot practice with their respective teams or participate in club sports. The statement can be found at https://www.ihsa.org/default.asp
“We are just waiting to hear what’s going to happen to our season,” head softball coach Lindsay Suess said. “I have been in contact with our kids about what we know and about our fundraiser. I want them to practice social distancing and be safe.”
“My reaction has mainly just been disbelief,” head boys tennis coach Kristy Eckardt said. “It’s so crazy and unbelievable that this has happened, but I know that it’s necessary… I have been in contact with the kids and I’ve sent them some suggestions like running, hitting against their garages, watching YouTube tennis videos and more.”